Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Nor'Easter...

I woke an hour before dawn and heard it. The wind scouring around the house, whistling at the windows and buffeting the walls with hissing snow. I pulled the covers up and snuggled in for a bit, listening to the storm and enjoying the exquisite warmth and comfort of our soft bed. I knew that when I got up I would have to go out into the storm, and I was in no hurry.

The sun cast a half-hearted light when it rose, the sky heavy with clouds and the snow blowing sideways on fitful gusts of wind.

It took three trips to get the hoof stock settled. Ziva came out with me when I insisted, ears flattened, tail clamped, back hunched. She went as far at the garage and waited while I dished up goat and pony breakfast, then she beat it for the back door and convinced my husband to let her in. "You are on your own," she seemed to say. "YOU have boots and a warm coat!"

The goats and horse were glad to see me, and grain. I stood in the shelter of the shed a while, watching them enjoy their meal. The wind was so fierce it had blown a dusting of snow through the seams of the roof, and the goats had a light frosting of white on their thick fur.

I waded back through the snow, varying in depth from ankle high to well over my knees, and returned with a bucket and a jug of warm water. The goats refuse to go out in the weather for a drink, so I hung a bucket in their room and filled it up. They dipped their muzzles in and sucked the water down silently. I offered some to the horse, she was not interested. She does not hesitate to wander out in the storm, and it is not a far trip to the heated water tub in the pasture. One more trek out into the wind and back filled the hay racks to the brim.

Next I checked on the chickens and tossed some scratch grains into the coop to keep them occupied. The ducks got a pan of warm water and a scoop of food. They look unhappy locked in their hutch, but it is the safest place for them, bedded deep with dry shavings and keeping them out of the wind. By the time I got inside my face was stinging from cold. The thermometer on the deck read 8 degrees.



Looking outside from the warm house, everything is shades of pewter. The wind was blowing so hard it forced snow in around the window where it melted into a puddle on the sill.



And the pantry window is just filled with snow!

The wild birds seem grateful for the full feeders. And I know I should have taken my Christmas wreaths down by now... but isn't this pretty full of snow?



We had to insist quite firmly that the dogs go outside. They rudely did what they must on the deck, mere inches from the door. Smooch looked woeful as he waited for us to allow him to re-enter.



We all agree it is best to be inside, where the house is cozy and tidy and warm...



And soup is bubbling on the stove, perfuming the air with spicy goodness.



I need to go back outside soon, carrying more hay and water and checking on the critters. How grateful I will be to come back inside.













Sunday, January 25, 2015

Frosting...

It has been a brown winter. More rain and mud than snow and frozen ground. But yesterday we had a beautiful little storm, leaving a few inches of light, powdery white, frosting the world as far as I can see.



The livestock don't seem to mind the white stuff.



And Ziva buries her face in the snow to smell the smells buried beneath it.



Then trots around the meadow, exploring a world that looks different than usual.



The wheelbarrow and birdhouse rest for now, but soon spring will come and they will both be pressed into service.



A nor'easter storm is predicted for tomorrow, so today will be spent cleaning and readying the animals enclosures. We have plenty of food for both man and beast stored away. Let the storms blow!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cruise....

It was a chance of a lifetime. The three of us were able to go on a 9 day cruise to Aruba, in January, and I got to go FREE. It was a groom cruise, and I was the speaker. Chris and Rachel were able to join in at a reduced rate. We left Maine when it was -13 degrees, and spent days on the water, in the sun, wearing bathing suits and eating food none of us cooked. And it was good.

There were dolphins...



And Pelicans...



Iguanas...

(I tried a cup of iguana soup made by a lovely local woman...)



The ship, (and the husband) were very attractive!

And,oh... that whole ocean/sky thing? Amazing.



We all liked our balcony. Rachel even hauled her mattress out there one night and slept under the stars listening to the waves.



The sunsets were amazing.



And we spent some happy hours here...



In the end, there was home. With our oh-so-comfy bed and all those mouths to feed. I was so happy to muck out the pony shed and stuff the hay feeders full and see the ducks waddling about. I loved our magical time in the Caribbean, but home is still my most favorite place.




Monday, December 29, 2014

Maine Frost; the most amazing gift...

My husband often tells me, "you could have done worse in the in-law department." He is SO right. I have been blessed to marry into a family of lovely, kind, generous people.

Sister-in-law Brenda recently confided in me that she had made a small quilt as a surprise for my daughter for Christmas. She is an artist with fabric. I dutifully kept the gift quilt a secret.

When the box arrived it was HUGE and rather heavy. I thought that perhaps I had misunderstood, this quilt must not be so small. When my daughter arrived home from work I excitedly showed her the package. "Open it, it's a present for YOU!" She happily noted the return address and sliced the box open. When she pulled out an enormous quilt in all of my favorite shades of white, and cream and soft, batik blue, I was jealous. It was the most beautiful quilt I had ever seen in my life. The stitching was in lovely swirls, enhancing the incredible combined effect of the fabrics. And then my daughter read the enclosed note, and that quilt? That incredible, amazing, stunning quilt? It was for me! (It was for my husband, too, but really? It obviously was made with my tastes in mind.) Brenda and her awesome daughter Lisa had worked on the quilt together. (The promised quilt for my daughter was there, too, bright and owl themed and adorable.)




The way the colors are arranged, they reminded me of the magic of a winter New England landscape.I love this place, in every season, but I have to say, the winter landscape transfixes me. And then I noticed the perfect name they had given this wonder...



As usual, my husband is right. I could have done worse in the in-law department.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sad goodbye...

When we lived in Memphis, many years ago, I volunteered with local animal rescue groups to raise orphaned kittens. I would bottle feed them, and raise them until they were reliably eating solid food, then they would go to a new foster home until they were old enough to be adopted.

The people at the rescue groups knew that I would not foster dogs. This is because though I love both dogs and cats, I was more apt to fall head over heels in love with a dog. I knew myself well enough to understand that unless I wanted to be a dog hoarder, I couldn't bring them into my home.

One day a friend involved in rescue called me. "I KNOW you don't foster dogs, but I have a Pug puppy I need immediate placement for. If you could just keep her for a couple of days, I promise I'll find another person to take her." I thought about it, and realized something else about myself. I am a dog snob. I am very much attracted to beautiful dogs. And Pugs? Let's face it, they are kind of funny looking. "Sure," I said. "I can help you out for a few days."

The story was that a family had tried to relinquish a 5 week old Pug puppy at the big city shelter. My friend was there at the time, and knew that a pup that young stood little chance of surviving there. Surely she would contract some sort of disease and perish. I agreed to take the dog,just for a short time, while she found a more permanent solution.

The puppy arrived 4th of July weekend in 2000. She was tiny,a mere handful of a dog, and honestly? The ugliest puppy I have ever seen. Fleas ran rampant on her little black body, her abdomen was swollen with worms, and the signature curly tail that Pugs wear with pride hung like a limp noodle.

My friend was unable to find another home to take her in, and she wasn't much trouble, so I agreed to keep her a while and screen potential adopters. A few days into her stay I found myself looking down at her little, wizened face and soulful eyes and saying, "Oh! You are SO beautiful." I realized I was in trouble.



I shelled out the $50 adoption fee and Poppy became ours. For 14 1/2 years she has been a sweet, solid companion. She taught me a lot about enjoying comfort, because seeking and savoring all things cozy and squishy and warm was her passion. Every sunshine puddle that slanted in through a window was cherished by her, every soft pillow claimed and treasured. She never met a dog she didn't like,or a human, either. She had a long and healthy life, and seemed to be the happiest of spirits.



As a young dog she was an equal opportunity snuggler. She'd be happy to cuddle anyone. When she was a pup Rachel would sometimes sneak into our room at night and steal her. I would wake and find her missing and call to Rachel, "Are you a Pug napper?" She would reply, "I'm a PUG smuggler!" But as Poppy got older she became more and more attached to me. In the past few months I couldn't leave her sight. She followed me from room to room and could not settle unless I was near.



And that was fine with me. I treasured time with her.

Yesterday she died peacefully in my arms. For a small dog, she has left a large whole in life. But I am so grateful to have had her. The best $50 I ever spent? It was buying her companionship and unfaltering love.









Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas at FairWinds...



This year, more than before, I noticed people around me having problems with the holiday. There was frantic shopping and cooking and preparation. One friend wrote, "I wish the world would slow down a bit. Get gentle. It feels jagged out there with all the hurrying." Those words resonated strongly with me. I have done the hurried holiday, and didn't enjoy it. And I have realized more and more that we can make choices.

For our family, we kept the decorations simple. We cooked meals that we liked but that were not horribly involved.

We chose gifts for each other with great thought and care.



And today, when people I know were rushing from one place to another to "celebrate," we stayed home.



We had waffles with mimosa's for breakfast, opened our gifts at a leisurely pace, watched Christmas movies together. I stayed in my pajamas all day! For supper we had stuffed shells that daughter Rachel and I cooked up earlier in the week. We made them with creamy goat cheese I created myself, and the sauce was homemade, too, and safely tucked in the freezer, tasting like late summer. All I had to do today was pop them in the oven.

We end the day happy, relaxed and rested. It was time filled with the people we love the best, quiet contemplation,
and gratitude. Because we chose it to be that way. And we'll make the same choice next year.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sometimes...

I have been happily grooming dogs and cats for 30 years now. It is a vocation I cherish, but I have to admit, sometimes I wonder. I wonder why it is this job I was clearly put on earth to do. I look around me, at people I admire. My sister the librarian who has fired a love of reading in the minds of thousands of children. My other sister, a teacher, who gives the gift of loving to learn to small children. I think of doctors who cure the sick and scientists who discover things to improve the lives of humans everywhere. Lawyers who find justice. Farmers who feed the world. I admire veterinarians more than words can say. So why, why, was I given the drive and desire to groom dogs? In the greater scheme of things, my work does not seem very important. I joke that God gives everyone certain gifts. Some are brilliant at business, some are skilled artists... but me, he gave me the ability to scrub dog and cat butts.



I will probably never know just why I am programmed to do the work I do, but I know two things. I know I am glad of it. And I know that I have been blessed more than I can ever say by the relationships I have developed with the owners of the pets I groom. This was brought home to me today with great clarity when I received a phone call from a dear lady I met around 11 years ago when I first moved to Maine. I liked her instantly and as I got to know her over the years I liked her more and more. I pet sat her sweet little dog many times while she traveled. A friendship that I treasure developed. Her dog recently went to the rainbow bridge, and I miss her. I also miss my friend. It was a joy to me that she called today, and we had a happy chat.

And this got me to remembering all the wonderful souls I have met because I groomed their dog or cat. People who still send me cards and emails and gifts 12 or more years since I have seen them last. People who populate my memories with colorful, joyous thoughts. All because I was given the gift of loving to groom pets.

Sometimes I remember just how blessed I really am.